On Sacred Places

“Moses, you are walking on holy ground.” So says Yahweh from the burning bush. At an early age, I found myself drawn to that notion. Holy ground or as others might say, Sacred Place.

For many years I assumed that sacred places were found only in places of worship. Thankfully I began to encounter the notion of Sacred Place outside of churches. Many Native American traditions, for example, include a powerful sense of Sacred Place. I came to understand that Scared Place was both the setting for and opportunity for profound spiritual experience.

When I consider some of the most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve had, the majority of them did not occur in a church. One occurred at a death-bed, another by the Pacific Ocean in Marina Del Rey. Yes, I’ve encountered God in churches but I’ve also encountered Him/Her in the depths of Lincoln National Forest or in the presence of Salvador Dali’s “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” in the National Museum of Art.

Sacred Places are places of comfort, places where I can go when feeling exhausted or broken and find sustenance and renewal.

A Sacred Place can be a place of empowerment, a place where I acquire new strength, uncover unknown gifts, find direction.

Sacred Place is a place of healing of body, mind, and spirit. It may be a place where I must first face wounds and failings but all in the name of healing. For me, the rooms of 12 Step meetings were and are sacred.

And indeed in Sacred Places we may encounter the Numinous, that level of spiritual reality for which there are no words.

Organized religion has not cornered the market on Sacred Places. As Lawrence Kushner has written: “Culture and organized religion conspire to trick us into believing that entrances to holiness are only at predicted times and prearranged places.” (Honey from the Rock, p.56)

Quoting scripture, Lawrence Kushner titled another of his books God Was in This Place and I, i Did Not Know It. Sacred Place is available to us both in nature and in the inner city. We just need to pay attention.

Reflection: What have been some of your Sacred Places?

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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8 Responses to On Sacred Places

  1. mulchmantrc@aol.com says:

    excellent,my good friend — just plain excellent

  2. Eileen P.Williams says:

    Sacred places……hmmmm, let’s see–how about at the Houchen Center welcoming immigrant children–teaching them silly games so that by laughing they can forget terror for a few minutes? Any time I experience vulnerability and tears–that’s sacred place. I think most places could be sacred if I would just slow down and notice.

  3. Susan Bass says:

    As frustrated as I have been with the place at times, the VA is a sacred place for me. I remember one time when a few vets became a bit obstreperous and a Vietnam vet/group facilitator simply said, “This is a VETERANS’ house”. They immediately calmed themselves. I know there is a lot of negative publicity now and some of it is well deserved. And at the same time, there have been occasions when I thought to myself that if I could only get the vet aboard the VA “ship” he would be okay.

  4. Well, on one level, all places are sacred places, but I have been deeply influenced by some specific ones. Back in 1989 I found myself on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona, and that serendipitous event led to a five-year journey of regular visits to Hopi and deep connections with a number of Hopi elders and sacred sites on their land. I now live in Colorado where a local park which feels like it’s not in the city at all has become the venue of my “Sunday morning church service.” I take a chair, my journal, and some deeply moving music and sit there staring at the mountains, the sky, the green grass, and the trees. The most sacred places for me are not within four walls but outdoors with no walls, the only floor being the earth, and the only ceiling being a never-ending sky.

  5. Billie Brown Bibona says:

    Fly fishing. Jicarilla Apache Reservation. Northern New Mexico.

  6. Chas Thomas says:

    It is my belief that many places are “Sacred Places” and each one is sacred for different reasons. Just to name a couple:
    Fort Bliss National Cemetary, The Vietnam Memorial in the Moreno Valley in Northern New Mexico.
    However, I also believe that, under certain conditions just about anyplace can become “Sacred”, such as when I’m studying at my desk and the right music is playing or if I’m working on new music in my studio.

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